The Hailstorm of Lawsuits in the Mobile Industry

By Deane Barker on April 8, 2012

Apple’s War on Android: My normally vitriolic stance towards Apple is softening a bit, but I still need to post this article that details the intellectual property war between Apple and…everyone else, it seems.  Specifically, Apple and Samsung are suing each other, mainly because Apple can’t sue Google directly over Android.

Here’s the crux of one of the suits – a description of what Apple feels is a “trademarkable” thing:

a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners, a flat clear face covering the front of the product, [and] a large display screen under the clear surface.

I find it absurd that you can try to trademark something that general. Hell, the coffee table in my living room resembles this description perfectly.  The article itself has pictures of a couple of pre-iPhone products that match that description too.

But, the fault doesn’t just lie with Apple – everyone in the mobile space is suing everyone else, which seems to be the only reason Google purchased Motorola’s mobile unit:

Google announced it would pay $12.5 billion to acquire the company’s mobile-phone operation and its 17,000 patents. The deal, said Google CEO Page, will “enable us to better protect Android from anticompetitive threats from Microsoft, Apple, and other companies.” In other words: You sue us, we sue you.

The last paragraph of the article sums up the mess quite elegantly.

In the short run, the tech giants could save themselves considerable legal fees and distraction if they were to lock their lawyers in a hallway of conference rooms and refuse to release them until they had crafted a series of comprehensive cross-licensing pacts. This process eventually resolved similar litigation in the desktop computer field. Such a solution “is still probably what will happen here,” says Stanford’s Lemley. “But in the meantime, these companies have paid their lawyers more than $400 million” over the last several years. “It’s not clear what they’re getting for that money.”